Post 25 — The Building Boom

Carolyn ignores the view from the platform where the cable car passengers disembarked.

Carolyn ignores the view from the platform where the cable car passengers disembarked.

Governor Lee’s bold new idea had set off a building boom on the island. A new power plant had been constructed in 1961 to supply the electricity needed to run the televisions in each remote village. In order to broadcast the programming, a 40,000 watt transmitter had been constructed and lifted and then rebuilt on top of 1600 ft. Mt. Alava, assuring that the signal would reach the outer islands. They had even strung a mile-long cable car across Pago Pago harbor to allow engineers access to the giant antennae. The hike up the mountaintop to access the gondola was daunting, as was the trip across the harbor in a car that swayed and buffered as it zipped along a cable that was terrifyingly thin. But the view was spectacular.

The plan also called for the construction of 26 consolidated schools to be built in most of the villages, but as of October of 1964, only four had been completed. Many were in various stages of being built, but the first year would be more of a trial run since only about one thousand students would be reached.

One of the biggest problems is finding principals for these village schools. Several schools are almost ready, but they can’t operate because they need a stateside principal with television experience to co-ordinate the program. Many of these villages are on the north side of the island, accessible only by boat or mountain trail: seems like there’s not many takers for the jobs. Now that school has started again in the states, the problem is even worse. They might get them for next Sept., but to work into the program properly they should be here at least six months in advance. Several of the teachers were here months before I was, and it gave them time to get acclimated and get their teeth into their work.

The schools are quite attractive and built in the Samoan style with open sides to retain the native influence. I visited the school at Nua last week and was quite impressed by it. It’s composed of ten buildings, which includes about 16 classrooms, library, cafeteria, and lavatories. My job is to educate them to keep the rocks out of the john.

Larry

Because a white man standing in a shower showing native children how to wash themselves properly would not have been a good way to start his Samoan teaching career, Larry and a cameraman took a day trip to a village to make a film about proper health habits. They went back to Vaitogi, which was where the fia fia had been held the Broquet’s first day on the island. The sun was shining and the ocean glass like as they were welcomed back to the village by Siamau, who worked at the studio as a translator. The star of this documentary was to be Siamau’s son, Solomon, a cheerful 8-year-old boy who seemed to be completely unfazed by the fact that he would soon be recognized across the island as the poster boy for hygiene.

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